Cover photo for Faye L. Olsen's Obituary
Faye L. Olsen Profile Photo
1943 Faye 2023

Faye L. Olsen

January 9, 1943 — October 30, 2023

Missoula

Faye Lanell (Killian) Olsen’s precious life came to its final chapter this week, surrounded by her loving family. Faye found closure to her rambling love story as she gracefully let go of a life, well-loved and well lived. Faye showed grace and courage as always in her final days as she battled complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Faye deeply loved Montana although it was her second home. Born in Fredericktown, Missouri in 1943, the youngest in a large farm family, she came to Montana in the mid 1970’s with her first husband and her two daughters. She put her English degree from the University of Missouri - St. Louis to work as a middle school teacher at Target Range grade school for a few years, then become a real estate agent for Lambros to support herself and her daughters, Cindi and Janie after her divorce. Faye was a strong woman, surviving with grace and determination as she raised two teenage daughters as a single mom.

Soon, by the most unlikely and humorous of story lines, she would meet the love of her life, George Olsen. One wintery evening, Christmas Eve of 1982, her youngest daughter, Janie overflowed the bathtub in their upstairs apartment into the apartment below - George’s apartment. Later that night, as they arrived separately and walked up to the Methodist church alone for Christmas Eve services, they realized they attended the same one. Faye and George were married that spring and the rest is part of her most deeply valued history. It was a match made in heaven - most often referred to as Big Sky Country.

Pictures and stories abound of Faye’s trips and experiences over her lifetime. Whether enjoying the castles of Ireland, awed by the the ruins of Rome, or romanced by the art and culture of Paris, Faye celebrated it. The crowded streets of Peru, Israel, India, and China were no match for Faye’s camera or her journal. Once, on a trip to Africa, Faye wrote of finding a baboon sitting next to her in their open Jeep. She captured enough stories and photos to fill a library in her 80 plus years.

All things were inspiring to Faye. A breathtaking sunrise at the lake was worth getting up for; coffee in hand, wrapped in a blanket on the deck. She traveled on a rickety bus to Canada to photograph polar bears in their natural habitat, surviving freezing temperatures for days. A simple, fresh snowfall delicately painting its white brush on a Montana evergreen tree was masterpiece worthy for Faye’s photos and writings.

Her passion for writing eventually drew her to the English department at the University of Montana where she earned a master’s degree in creative writing. Inspired by her mentor, William Kittredge, Faye wrote passionately for the rest of her life. Whether writing of living in Montana, or Hawaii, about a family road trip back to her childhood home in Missouri, or a jaunt to a faraway place to visit George’s daughter Briana and her family overseas, Faye wrote faithfully about her experiences, matching them to her lovely photos.

Faye’s perspective on all things was wrapped up in service via a wry sense of humor, curiosity, deep intelligence, and a keen sense of family. She didn’t see herself as brave or unique; she just lived her life as it presented itself curiously and with conviction of self. Faye became a college graduate, an English teacher, a writer, a realtor, an office manager for her husband’s dental practice. Faye was a constant, loving, dependable presence in all our lives. She was a member of quite a few local service organizations and groups, attending PEO and Art Associates, serving on the Missoula Library Board, attending, and supporting the Missoula Symphony faithfully. She was also a loyal member of The Women’s Club in Missoula for decades.

When Faye and George decided to round out their family, they traveled to Peru together to adopt their youngest children, Erin and Thomas, our newest siblings. Faye stayed for weeks alone while the paperwork was finished as George had a dental practice to run in the states. During these weeks, she wrote pages and pages in her journal describing the mundane, but precious moments as a new mother, right next to notations of frightening stories of her experiences navigating Lima, Peru. She appreciated the opportunity to be the storyteller for her family then and always. Faye made us all feel part of the whole. Her grace and compassion, empathy and kindness, curiosity and love always evident.

Faye understood and welcomed her ever changing purpose in life. Named after her father Otto Lafayette (Fate) Killian and the daughter of homemaker, artist and writer, Mabel Laura Dollar Killian, Faye lovingly became a wife, mother, and grandmother (many times and ways over). Faye carried all things, and all people close to her heart. Pain, and sadness right next to joy, pride, and love. She could reach out and pluck that perfect thing you needed to hear in that moment right from nowhere and it would be right and perfect and timely (maybe even unsuspectingly funny). Faye had a remarkable ability to say just the right thing or simply hold a quiet space for us if we needed that.

Faye loved all of us unconditionally - her husband, George, her children, Cindi, Janie, Briana, Erin and Thomas and their families. She loved skiing with George and the family at The Big Mountain. You hadn’t enjoyed a full day skiing until she peeled a juicy orange for you in the car. Faye treasured sitting around the fire toasting marshmallows at their lake place on Flathead or cooking a big dinner and sharing it around her welcoming table in Missoula. She loved animals and they loved her - cats, dogs, birds, deer, the bear at the lake or the squirrels on her deck – they all got attention from Faye.

Happily, there is no other way to do Faye Lanell (Killian) Olsen justice than to elevate her countenance over her accomplishments. Her life’s work was the circle of friends and loved ones she has nurtured. In writing her story, I never asked her how she wanted to be remembered, because I have always known the answer. She didn’t care. She was always more interested in the moment than the past. Always more curious about the present than the future. Always comfortably aware that all that mattered was the here and now. I hope you will all take this advice with you, today and always as her lesson. Don’t waste your life in fear or worry. Be in the moment. And life will always deliver.

Faye is survived by her husband, George M. Olsen, children Cindi Jobe (Frank Jobe), Janie Scheben (Rob Scheben), Briana Olsen (Michael Talbot), Erin Warstler (Carson Warstler), Thomas Olsen (Becca McClelland) and grandchildren Jacob Jobe (Vanessa Jobe), Joshua Diettert, Morgan Diettert, Anna Jobe, Kirrah Anderson, Hawkin Talbot, and Tripp Warstler. Extended family, sister Rose Polete, and brother, Bill Killian (Donna Killian) and the rest of the Killian and Olsen families.

Faye was preceded in death by her sweet Mom and Dad, Mabel and Fate Killian; George’s parents Frances and Almer Olsen; his sister Janet and husband Tom Tutt; her older siblings, Amylee Huffman and her husband Truman; Joe Killian and his wife, Nora; Harold Killian and his wife, Susan; and her brother-in-law, Bill Polete.

Services for Faye will be Monday, November 6 at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church, online condolences may be left at gardencityfh.com.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Faye’s memory by donating to one of her favorite charities:

The Michael J Fox Foundation

Summit for Parkinson’s

To order memorial trees in memory of Faye L. Olsen, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Monday, November 6, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

First United Methodist Church

300 E Main St, Missoula, MT 59802

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